2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup

The 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup was the first season of the European Rugby Challenge Cup, the annual rugby union competition. It is the 19th season of second tier pan-European club competition in general, as the competition replaces the European Challenge Cup.[1] The competition began with the first round of the group stage, on the weekend of 16 October 2014, and ended with the final on 1 May 2015 at the Twickenham Stoop.[2][3]

2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup
Tournament details
Countries England
 France
 Ireland
 Italy
 Scotland
 Wales
 Romania
Tournament format(s)Round-robin and Knockout
Date16 October 2014 – 1 May 2015
Tournament statistics
Teams20
Matches played67
Attendance391,649 (5,846 per match)
Tries scored395 (5.9 per match)
Top point scorer(s)Sam Hidalgo-Clyne (Edinburgh)
(99 points)
Top try scorer(s)Lloyd Williams (Cardiff Blues)
(6 tries)
Final
VenueThe Stoop, Twickenham
ChampionsEngland Gloucester (2nd title)
Runners-upScotland Edinburgh
← 2013–14 (Previous)
(Next) 2015–16 →

Gloucester became the first ever champions of the newly formatted competition, beating Edinburgh, who became the first ever Scottish team to make a European final, 19–13, with 14 men on the pitch for the final 17 minutes with center Bill Meakes being sent off because of a dangerous high tackle of the ball on Edinburgh center Sam Beard.[4][5]

TeamsEdit

Twenty teams qualified for the 2014–15 European Rugby Challenge Cup, based on their performance in their respective domestic leagues the previous season. The distribution of teams is as follows:[1]

  • England: 5 teams
  • France: 8 teams
    • Any teams finishing between 8th-12th position in the Top 14. (5 Teams)
    • The champion, and the winner of the promotion play-off, from the Pro D2. (2 Teams)
    • There will be an 8th team from France, as Stade Français lost the 7th Place play-off for entry into the European Rugby Champions Cup. (1 team)
  • Ireland, Italy, Scotland & Wales: 5 teams
  • Other European Nations: 2 teams
    • Two teams will qualify through the Qualifying Competition, which will take place in September.[3]

So far, the following 18 teams have qualified.

Aviva Premiership Top 14 Pro12 Qualifying Competition
  England   France   Ireland   Italy   Scotland   Wales   Other European Nations

Champions Cup Play-offEdit

The following teams took part in the play-off to decide the final team in the Champions Cup. The play-off was held between the 7th placed teams in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. The loser of this play-off joined the Challenge Cup.

Aviva Premiership Top 14
  England   France
Wasps Stade Français

On 29 April 2014, it was announced that this play-off would take place over two legs, on the weekends of 17/18 May and 24/25 May, with a draw being used to determine home advantage for each leg.[7]

The draw took place on 6 May 2014, in Heathrow. Following the draw, the fixtures were announced as follows:[8]

18 May 2014
15:00 BST
Wasps   30–29   Stade Français
24 May 2014
14:45 CEST
Stade Français   6–20   Wasps

Stade Français lost the play-off 35-50 on aggregate, and will play in the Challenge Cup.

Qualifying CompetitionEdit

On 14 August 2014, EPCR announced the format for the first qualifying competition.[9]

Given the amount of time until the start of the Challenge Cup, it was announced that this first competition will consist of 2 two-legged matches, with the aggregate winner of each taking a place in either pool. The first legs took place on 20 September, with the return legs taking place on 27 September

Rugby Europe 1 Play-offEdit

20 September 2014
16:00 CEST
Rovigo Delta   22–18   Tbilisi Caucasians
Stadio Mario Battaglini
Referee: Lloyd Lynton (SRU)
27 September 2014
17:00 GET
Tbilisi Caucasians   21–24   Rovigo Delta
Stadium Avchala
Referee: Matthew Carley (RFU)
  • Rovigo Delta won the play-off 46 - 39 on aggregate, and qualify for Pool 1.

Rugby Europe 2 Play-offEdit

20 September 2014
21:00 EEST
București Wolves   18–13   Calvisano
Stadium Arcul de Triumf
Referee: Gary Conway (IRFU)
27 September 2014
19:30 CEST
Calvisano   13–10   București Wolves
Peroni Stadium
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (FFR)

Team detailsEdit

Below is the list of coaches, captain and stadiums with their method of qualification for each team.

Note: Placing shown in brackets, denotes standing at the end of the regular season for their respective leagues, with their end of season positioning shown through CH for Champions, RU for Runner-up, SF for losing Semi-finalist and QF for losing Quarter-finalist.

Team Coach /
Director of Rugby
Captain Stadium Capacity Method of Qualification
  Bayonne   Patricio Noriega
  Nicolas Morlaes
  David Roumieu Stade Jean Dauger 17,000 Top 14 7th-12th (10th)
  Bordeaux Bègles   Raphaël Ibañez   Matthew Clarkin Stade André Moga 10,000 Top 14 7th-12th (8th)
  Brive   Nicolas Godignon   Arnaud Méla Stade Amédée-Domenech 16,000 Top 14 7th-12th (9th)
  București Wolves   Lynn Howells   Stelian Burcea Arcul de Triumf Stadium 5,500 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Cardiff Blues   Paul John
  Dale McIntosh
(For   Mark Hammett)[a]
  Matthew Rees BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park 12,500 Pro12 bottom 5 (7th)
  Connacht   Pat Lam   John Muldoon Sportsgrounds 7,800 Pro12 bottom 5 (10th)
  Edinburgh   Alan Solomons   Mike Coman Murrayfield Stadium 12,464[b] Pro12 bottom 5 (8th)
  Exeter Chiefs   Rob Baxter   Dean Mumm Sandy Park 10,744 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (8th)
  Gloucester   David Humphreys   Billy Twelvetrees Kingsholm Stadium 16,500 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (9th)
  Grenoble   Fabrice Landreau   Fabien Gengenbacher Stade des Alpes 20,000 Top 14 7th-12th (11th)
  La Rochelle   Patrice Collazo
  Fabrice Ribeyrolles
  Uini Atonio Stade Marcel-Deflandre 12,500 2013–14 Rugby Pro D2 promotion play-off winner
  London Irish   Brian Smith   George Skivington Madejski Stadium 24,250 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (10th)
  London Welsh   Justin Burnell   Tom May Kassam Stadium 12,500 2013–14 RFU Championship Champion
  Lyon   Tim Lane   Lionel Nallet Matmut Stadium 8,000 2013–14 Rugby Pro D2 Champion
  Newcastle Falcons   Dean Richards   Will Welch Kingston Park 10,200 Aviva Premiership 7th-11th (11th)
  Newport Gwent Dragons   Lyn Jones   Lee Byrne Rodney Parade 11,676 Pro12 bottom 5 (9th)
  Oyonnax   Christophe Urios   Florian Denos Stade Charles-Mathon 11,400 Top 14 7th-12th (12th)
  Rovigo Delta   Filippo Frati   Luke Mahoney Stadio Mario Battaglini 6,000 Challenge Cup Qualification Play-off
  Stade Français   Gonzalo Quesada   Sergio Parisse Stade Jean-Bouin 20,000 7th Place play-off loser
  Zebre   Andrea Cavinato   Marco Bortolami Stadio XXV Aprile
renamed Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi in January 2015
5,000 Pro12 bottom 5 (12th)

SeedingEdit

The 20 competing teams will be seeded and split into four tiers, seeding will be based on performance in their respective domestic leagues. Where promotion and relegation is in effect in a league, the promoted team will be seeded last, or (if multiple teams are promoted) by performance in the lower tier.[11] So, Lyon – who were Pro D2 champions – will be the seventh Top 14 seed while La Rochelle – who qualified through the Pro D2 play-off – will be the eighth seed.

As with the previous European competition, the European Challenge Cup, teams from the same country will be kept apart where possible. However, as 8 teams have qualified from France, 3 pools will contain two French teams – Oyonnax, Lyon and La Rochelle.

For the purposes of creating the tiers, the clubs are ranked based on their finishing positions in the Top 14, Aviva Premiership, Pro12 and PRO D2 Leagues, or on their qualification via a play-off.

Rank Top 14 Premiership Pro 12 Qualifying Competition
1   Stade Français   Exeter Chiefs   Cardiff Blues   Rovigo Delta
2   Bordeaux Bègles   Gloucester   Edinburgh   București Wolves
3   Brive   London Irish   Newport Gwent Dragons
4   Bayonne   Newcastle Falcons   Connacht
5   Grenoble   London Welsh   Zebre
6   Oyonnax
7   Lyon
8   La Rochelle

Teams will be taken from a league in order of rank and put into a tier. A draw is used allocate two second seeds to Tier 1, the remaining team will go into Tier 2. This allocation then determines which fourth seeded team enters Tier 2, while the others enter Tier 3.

Given the nature of the Qualifying Competition, a competition including developing rugby nations and Italian clubs not competing in the Pro12, Rugby Europe 1 and Rugby Europe 2 are automatically included in Tier 4, despite officially being ranked 1/2 from that competition.

The brackets show each teams seeding and their league (for example, 1 Top 14 indicates the team has been seeded 1st from the Top 14).

Tier 1   Cardiff Blues (1 Pro12)   Exeter Chiefs (1 AP)   Stade Français (1 Top 14)   Gloucester (2 AP)   Edinburgh (2 Pro12)
Tier 2   Bordeaux Bègles (2 Top 14)   Brive (3 Top 14)   London Irish (3 AP)   Newport Gwent Dragons (3 Pro12)   Bayonne (4 Top 14)
Tier 3   Newcastle Falcons (4 AP)   Connacht (4 Pro12)   FC Grenoble (5 Top 14)   London Welsh (5 AP)   Zebre (5 Pro12)
Tier 4   Oyonnax (6 Top 14)   Lyon (7 Top 14)   La Rochelle (8 Top 14)   Rovigo Delta (Rugby Europe 1)   București Wolves (Rugby Europe 2)

Pool stageEdit

The draw took place on 10 June 2014, at the Stade de la Maladière in Neuchâtel.[12]

Teams will play each other twice, both at home and away, in the group stage, that will begin on the weekend of 16/17/18/19 October 2014, and continue through to 22/23/24/25 January 2015, before the pool winners and three best runners-up progress to the quarter finals.[2][13]

Fixtures were announced on Thursday 14 August 2014 at 2pm.

Teams are awarded competition points, based on match result. Teams receive 4 points for a win, 2 points for a draw, 1 attacking bonus point for scoring four or more tries in a match and 1 defensive bonus point for losing a match by seven points or fewer.[14]

In the event of a tie between two or more teams, the following tie-breakers are used, as directed by EPCR:

  1. Where teams have played each other
    1. The club with the greater number of competition points from only matches involving tied teams.
    2. If equal, the club that scored the most tries in those matches.
    3. If equal, the club with the best aggregate points difference from those matches.
  2. Where teams remain tied and/or have not played each other in the competition (i.e. are from different pools)
    1. If equal, the club with the best aggregate points difference from the pool stage.
    2. The club that scored the most tries in the pool stage.
    3. If equal, the club with the fewest players suspended in the pool stage.
    4. If equal, the drawing of lots will determine a club's ranking.
Key to colours
     Winner of each pool, advance to quarter-finals.
     Three highest-scoring second-place teams advance to quarter-finals.

Pool 1Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  London Irish (4) 6 5 0 1 220 123 +97 30 11 4 0 24
  Cardiff Blues (6) 6 5 0 1 249 95 +154 35 10 4 0 24
  Grenoble 6 2 0 4 161 160 +1 19 21 3 1 12
  Rovigo Delta 6 0 0 6 77 329 -252 8 50 0 1 1

Pool 2Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Exeter Chiefs (2) 6 5 0 1 212 97 +115 26 11 4 1 25
  Connacht (8) 6 4 0 2 186 144 +42 23 16 4 0 20
  Bayonne 6 2 0 4 106 162 –59 10 18 0 1 9
  La Rochelle 6 1 0 5 84 182 −98 10 24 0 0 4

Pool 3Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Newport Gwent Dragons (3) 6 5 0 1 240 127 +113 31 15 4 1 25
  Newcastle Falcons (7) 6 4 0 2 208 149 +59 29 20 4 1 21
  Stade Français 6 3 0 3 155 143 +12 19 13 2 1 15
  București Wolves 6 0 0 6 77 261 −184 8 39 0 1 1

Pool 4Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Edinburgh (5) 6 5 0 1 146 90 +56 14 8 1 1 22
  Lyon 6 4 0 2 149 139 +10 17 15 2 0 18
  Bordeaux Bègles 6 3 0 3 176 142 +34 22 14 3 1 16
  London Welsh 6 0 0 6 72 172 −100 7 23 0 1 1

Pool 5Edit

Team
P W D L PF PA Diff TF TA TB LB Pts
  Gloucester (1) 6 6 0 0 211 64 +147 25 6 5 0 29
  Oyonnax 6 4 0 2 123 124 -1 12 13 0 0 16
  Zebre 6 2 0 4 102 154 −52 10 18 0 0 8
  Brive 6 0 0 6 93 187 −94 11 21 0 2 2

Seeding and runners-upEdit

Seed Pool Winners Pts TF +/−
1   Gloucester 29 25 +147
2   Exeter Chiefs 25 26 +115
3   Newport Gwent Dragons 25 31 +113
4   London Irish 24 30 +97
5   Edinburgh 22 14 +56
Seed Pool Runners–up Pts TF +/−
6   Cardiff Blues 24 35 +154
7   Newcastle Falcons 21 29 +59
8   Connacht 20 23 +42
9   Lyon 18 17 +10
10   Oyonnax 16 12 -1

Knock-out stageEdit

The eight qualifiers will be seeded according to performance in the pool stage, and compete in the quarter-finals, which will be held on the 3/4/5 April 2015. The four top seeds will host the quarter-finals against the lower seeds, in a 1v8, 2v7, 3v6 and 4v5 format.

The semi-finals, to be contested by the quarter-final winners, will take place on the weekend of 17/18/19 April 2015.

The winners of the semi-finals will contest the final, at The Twickenham Stoop, on the weekend of 1 May 2015.[3]

Quarter-finalsEdit

3 April 2015
19:45
Gloucester   14–7   Connacht
Try: Sharples 20' c
Meakes 30' c
Con: Laidlaw (2/2) 21', 31'
Report[15] Try: Penalty try 65' c
Con: Carty (1/1) 66'
Kingsholm Stadium
Attendance: 13,236
Referee: Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
4 April 2015
12:45
Newport Gwent Dragons   25–21   Cardiff Blues
Try: Amos 35' c
Cudd 45' m
Penalty try 50' c
Con: Prydie (2/3) 35', 51'
Pen: Prydie (1/3) 8'
D. Jones (1/1) 67'
Report[16] Try: L. Williams 4' c
Anscombe 25' c
Navidi 74' c
Con: Anscombe (3/3) 5', 26', 74'
Rodney Parade
Attendance: 8,119
Referee: JP Doyle (RFU)
4 April 2015
20:00
Exeter Chiefs   48–13   Newcastle Falcons
Try: Ewers 12' c
Penalty try 19' c
Waldrom 41' c
McGuigan 58' c
Hill 69' c
Mumm 71' c
Con: Slade (4/4) 13', 20', 41', 58'
Steenson (2/2) 70', 73'
Pen: Slade (2/2) 35', 54'
Report[17] Try: Harris 66' c
Con: Catterick (1/1) 68'
Pen: Catterick (2/2) 33', 39'
Sandy Park
Attendance: 10,022
Referee: Marius Mitrea (FIR)
5 April 2015
17:45
London Irish   18–23   Edinburgh
Try: Gilsenan 40' c
Steele 52' m
Con: Geraghty (1/2) 40'
Pen: Geraghty (2/4) 32', 45'
Report[18] Try: Nel 10' c
McKenzie 59' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (2/2) 11', 61'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (3/3) 1', 18', 20'
Madejski Stadium
Attendance: 4,728
Referee: Pascal Gaüzère (FFR)

Semi-finalsEdit

17 April 2015
19:45
Edinburgh   45–16   Newport Gwent Dragons
Try: McInally 14' c
Visser 22' m
B. Toolis 54' c
Hidalgo-Clyne 60' c
Fife 67' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (4/5) 16', 56', 61', 69'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (4/5) 10', 33', 40+2', 58'
Report[19] Try: Harris 43' c
Con: D. Jones (1/1) 44'
Pen: D. Jones (3/3) 3', 18', 30'
Murrayfield Stadium
Attendance: 8,231
Referee: JP Doyle (RFU)
18 April 2015
19:45
Gloucester   30–19   Exeter Chiefs
Try: Meakes 30' c
Savage 67' c
May 77' c
Con: Laidlaw (3/3) 31', 68', 78'
Pen: Laidlaw (2/3) 17', 71'
Hook (1/1) 38'
Report[20] Try: Taione 75' c
Con: Steenson (1/1) 76'
Pen: Slade (4/4) 20', 40', 45', 60'
Kingsholm Stadium
Attendance: 11,907
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU)

FinalEdit

1 May 2015
19:45 BST
Edinburgh   13–19   Gloucester
Try: Ford 65' c
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne (1/1) 65'
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne (2/3) 2', 35'
Report[21] Try: Twelvetrees 10' c
Con: Laidlaw (1/1) 11'
Pen: Laidlaw (4/5) 8', 36', 49', 53'
The Twickenham Stoop, London
Attendance: 14,316
Referee: Jérôme Garcès (FFR)

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Mark Hammett began the tournament as Cardiff Blues head coach, but resigned for personal reasons on 25 February 2015, and replaced by Hammett's assistants, Paul John and Dale McIntosh who will oversee the Blues from the Quarter Finals onwards.[10]
  2. ^ Although Murrayfield's full capacity is 67,800, only the lower section of the West Stand, with a capacity of 12,464, is generally opened for Edinburgh fixtures.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "Future of European Rugby resolved" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 10 April 2014. Archived from the original on 25 May 2014. Retrieved 12 April 2014.
  2. ^ a b |utmccn=%28referral%29|utmcmd=referral|utmcct=/mCsEgmuUXy&__utmv=-&__utmk=101943746 EPCRugby.com - 10 things you may not know about EPCR
  3. ^ a b c Inaugural EPCR finals set for London Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "Gloucester hold on to beat Edinburgh despite Billy Meakes' mad moment". Guardian. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Edinburgh 13-19 Gloucester". BBC Sport. 1 May 2015. Retrieved 5 May 2015.
  6. ^ "Minimum Standards Criteria audit results" (Press release). Rugby Football Union. 9 May 2014. Archived from the original on 2014-05-12. Retrieved 9 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Rugby Union - Anglo-French play-off dates announced, AFP 29/5/2014". Archived from the original on 2014-04-30. Retrieved 2014-04-29.
  8. ^ European Rugby Champions Cup play-off draw, Premiership Rugby
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-08-14. Retrieved 2014-08-14.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Cardiff Blues: Mark Hammett leaves as director of rugby" [Press Release Zebre]. BBC Sport. BBC Sport. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  11. ^ http://archive.ercrugby.com/news/28791.php Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine ERCRugby.com. Accessed 8 June 2014
  12. ^ Irish Times - Rugby’s European Champions Cup draw to place on June 10th. Accessed 31/5/14
  13. ^ EPCRugby.com - 2014/15 EPCR Pool Draws Archived 2014-07-25 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "EPCR Competition Rules". Archived from the original on 2014-10-11. Retrieved 2014-10-10.
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2015-04-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-07. Retrieved 2015-04-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-07. Retrieved 2015-04-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-07. Retrieved 2015-04-05.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-18. Retrieved 2015-04-17.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-04-21. Retrieved 2015-04-21.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  21. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-25. Retrieved 2015-05-01.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)